Friday, August 04, 2006

Goodbye 70s [one for all you Yazoo fans]

Right, that's the 1970s section of TPO put to bed, for the most part. I'm still waiting on Colin Wyatt and Roy Preston to get back to me with their answers, but I've worked my way through 2000 AD's genesis and early development. I'll incorporate the material from Colin and Roy when it arrives, neatly augmenting what I've already gleaned from other creators and editorial staff of that era.

When TPO was originally serialised in the Megazine, it took three articles and 15,000 words to get to the end of the 1970s. For the much revised and expanded book edition of TPO, that same period of time has equated to a shade under 30,000 words. I don't expect the 1980s will expand quite so much, but there's still a lot of fresh materal to be incorporated into the narrative.

In TPO's Megazine incarnation, 1985-1989 was covered with almost obscene haste, as editor Alan Barnes wanted the whole thing done in 12 articles. He relaxed that stricture later on, so I don't expect the 1990s to grow much from what originally appeared in the Meg. But the current decade hardly got much a mention for obvious reasons in the original articles, so there's no shortage of good stuff to be added there. Anyway, here's today's extract from the work in progress...
By the summer of 1979 it was apparent Tornado would soon be cancelled. Alan Grant recalls the circumstances surrounding the failing title’s merger into 2000 AD. ‘When it was first suggested, Steve MacManus – to his credit – said it was a terrible idea, the two comics were not compatible. Unfortunately for Steve, he went on two weeks’ holiday. The day after he left somebody – I can’t remember who – told me it was my job to supervise the merger in Steve’s absence. I said no, I’d wait until Steve got back to sort it out. This person said it’s got to be done in the next two weeks, how can I persuade you? I said you can try financially!’

Grant says he was paid a bonus of £500 – six times his weekly wage – to oversee the merger. ‘I thought, well, fuck the principles, they’re going to do it anyway! I could have said no and they would have just got somebody else to do it. I took the money and did the work and when Steve came back he was unpleasantly surprised to discover he was now the editor of 2000 AD and Tornado!’ Grant also collected £5 from Sanders after winning their wager whether Tornado could last six months. The title was folded after twenty-two issues. ‘Sanders asked me how I knew it was going to be a failure,’ Grant recalls. ‘I said it wasn’t as good as 2000 AD.’

‘Tornado failed because it wasn’t good enough and the staff bear the brunt of responsibility for that,’ Sanders says. He dismisses as science fiction the idea of a bonus payment being made to facilitate the Tornado merger. ‘Do you seriously think I would have paid £500 to Grant to do that while MacManus was on holiday? I didn’t run the sort of organisation where the editor could refuse to do something I told them to do – that would have been anarchy.’ And the five pound wager? ‘I always forget losing bets, but I’m glad I’m remembered for honouring them. Grant should never have been involved in a bet like that, anyway, it was against the spirit of the company. But that was Grant. He was an excellent staffer, but a trouble-maker.’

Wordcount target: 120,000. Today's wordcount: 29, 678 words.


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